LMUat100: Women's Tennis Wins Its First WCC Title
LMU Athletics takes a look back at the first conference championship for women's tennis.
April 18, 2012
Loyola Marymount University is celebrating its Centennial in 2011-12 and athletics will honor the anniversary all season long. Each of LMU's NCAA Division I programs will be hosting a Centennial Game to honor LMUat100. Up next is women’s tennis’ match against BYU this Friday. As we approach the match, LMULions.com will look back at one of the memorable moments from women's tennis history. Today's look back features LMU women’s tennis’ first conference championship.
SANTA CLARA, Calif. (April 21, 2002) -- The Loyola Marymount University women's tennis team claimed its first ever West Coast Conference championship with a 4-2 upset over top seed Pepperdine in the finals of the conference tournament on Sunday afternoon at Santa Clara.
With the WCC Championship, the Lions received the automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament that starts with the first and second round on the weekend of May 10. Pairings and first round match-ups will be announced on Thursday, May 2.
"We knew we could play with them," said Head Coach Jamie Sanchez, who was in his 27th season at the helm of the women's tennis program, and won his first conference championship. "We played a great match all the way through. We came ready to play."
The Lions found themselves in a tough position early in the match as they lost a hard-fought doubles point. Andrea Lord and Angelina Zdorovytska paired to take the number one doubles match 8-1 over Charlotte Vernaz and Veronica Koksova. However, the Waves responded with 8-6 wins in both number two and number three doubles.
"The doubles point was a really tough loss for us. It is very difficult to come back after losing that doubles point," said Sanchez, whose Lions did not win a match all season after losing the doubles point. "Our team responded well by winning the championship with four wins in singles play."
After Pepperdine took a 1-0 lead with the doubles point, the Lions had to take four of the six single points for the championship. And they did.
First, Zdorovytska would claim the Lions' first point of the day with a 6-4, 6-2 win over Aklsandra Kujawska in number four singles.
Freshman Georgina Dinham then earned the Lions' second point with a 6-2, 6-4 straight set win over Anna Anderson at number six singles to give the LMU a 2-1 lead in the match.
Pepperdine tied the match at 2-2 when Penka Fileva fell to Monika Horvath at number three singles 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
With the match tied, both the number one and number two single matches would go into the third set. Both Edit Pakay at the number one singles and Lord at number two singles found themselves down one set to start their matches.
However, both responded to tie the matches and one set each to establish a dramatic finish. Pakay, who won the second set in a tie-breaker, responded for a 6-2 win in the third to put the Lions one point from the championship.
As she had done all season, Lord would complete the Lions' first title run with a 7-5 win in both the second and third set.
"We were talking about making history all week," said Sanchez. "It was the kind of stuff coaches talk about all the time in these situations, but it worked and we won. This team really learned a lot from the last time we played Pepperdine and I knew if we competed all the way through we could win."
The Lions lost to Pepperdine the prior Tuesday, 6-1 heading into the conference tournament. "We played too nervous at the beginning and never got going," said Sanchez. "Because of the nervousness, we were not capable of playing the way we can play. It was the match before the tournament and we were too comfortable with the surrounding. However, we learned a lot and going through that experience help us prepare for this match."
The Lions would go on to lose to Washington in the first round of the NCAA tournament. Sanchez said at the time, “We're not disappointed. We had a great season. It was a quite a team accomplishment, not only getting to the NCAA's, but getting there by way of a conference championship. Our four seniors (left) a legacy of setting and achieving their goals in the four years they were with us. Our program has continued to reach new heights over the last four years and I think we have now established a tradition of excellence, in reaching the NCAA's, that we can strive for in years to come."
LMU will host BYU this Friday at 1:30 p.m. at the LMU Tennis Center in its Centennial match. The match will be preceded by a ceremony honoring the team’s graduating seniors.
Check out highlights from the 2001-02 season: